On the seventh day, the universe was created. There’s one of the best pieces of marketing ever created that tells us all about it. For start-ups, the creation is a little longer, and finding a way to market themselves can be far harder.
Thankfully we live in the age of social media. Social media channels are fast becoming the best way of reaching target audiences, be they a target audience or the general populace as a whole. While the Big Three – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – are still the main power players when it comes to social media channels, there are others to consider.
In this article we’ll look at the big ones and some slightly less big ones. No channel is too small to overlook, especially as some focus on particular demographics which may be appropriate to your business. The key thing to remember before using social media is to make sure that the branding of the company has been developed. This may mean hiring someone for professional logo design and branding, or if you have an in house team then they can do that themselves.
The Big Three and Their Roles in Social Media Marketing
These names should be no surprise to anyone – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They are the main channels with regards to outreach through social media channels. The younger generations will naturally be fluent with these, while older generations mean need some ITIL training. The main three have slightly different uses; it’s difficult to judge them as which is most effective, but all three should be utilised by start-ups.
Twitter – Today’s version of the call centre, Twitter is used by companies both as a point of contact for customer enquiries and a press release platform. Due to the visibility and quick response times on Twitter, many customers will take to this channel to bypass lengthy and frustrating customer service processes. Any company worth their salt will have whose entire job is to monitor Twitter (and possibly other channels alongside). Start-ups can use this to appear more open and friendly, as well as having an additional platform that is easily shareable to launch news of their product or service from.
Instagram – Based around selling an idea or a lifestyle, Instagram is focussed primarily on photos. Good brand management and development can be seen through the “grid” (Instagram photos are arranged in a grid layout of thumbnail images). For start-ups, this is a good way of lead generation as text is allowed in the image description, meaning if a potential customer sees a photo they like, they can follow a link through the description. Handy for start-ups that are trying to sell an image as well as a product or service, Instagram is a beautifully easy channel to utilise as it involves little direct customer contact.
Facebook – The mack daddy of all the social media channels, Facebook can reach an incredible 901 million unique users a month. While no company (apart from some of the multinationals) will want to reach that many users, it does give a huge pool to be drawn from. Facebook Ads allow for a huge amount of customisation when it comes to specifying target audiences. This is great for generating a large amount of interest for start-ups. Ads are also run as campaigns, allowing better planning and logistics. When the return on a campaign begins to slow down, they can be stopped or refreshed. This is great for generating a large amount of interest for start-ups. The flipside is that it is very easy to spend money through Facebook Ads, so be careful when setting up campaigns that you know how much you are budgeting for.
Alternative Social Media Channels
Snapchat – A rapidly growing social media channel with a younger demographic, Snapchat reaches 41% of 18-35 year olds daily in the US. While not a traditional marketing tool, the addition of geo-located filters and streams make this app suitable for location-targeted launches. Streams can also be centred over themes as opposed to geo located, so start-ups could set up a steam centred around their idea. As Snapchat is heavily user-interactive, this will get potential customers engaging with the brand and its image.
Pinterest – Pinterest is the fastest growing social media channel, and with good reason. It has an active and engaged user base, well known for the constructive criticism and spending power. Centred more around physical products that online products or services as a whole, Pinterest should be of great interest to any start-up selling physical goods. A great way to test run small batches of products before going to mass production, Pinterest cannot be overlooked.
LinkedIn – Essentially an interactive, online CV, LinkedIn is good for connecting industry representative. This can allow start-ups to recruit appropriately and reach out to relevant experts for collaborated or analytical reasons. It also has an article publishing platform, which allows for press releases. It can also be used for SEO purposes, as any article published can contain links back to the main company website.
IndieGoGo (and other crowdfunding sites) – While crowdfunding channels are not strictly social media channels themselves, they have enough social media interaction that they need to be included. Crowdfunding strategies can vary from selling future products to raise revenue, to simply asking for investment in the brands idea. A good campaign also has the potential to go viral, massively boosting brand awareness for a start-up and allow them to bypass the difficult initial stage of branding.
While social media is an incredibly power tool for any start-up in today’s business world, it can be easy to ruin a business idea before it has even begun if not handled properly. A social media strategy should always be developed before any social media marketing begins, as it is too easy to lose focus on the proper goals. If this happens, a start-up could squander huge amount of time and money, potentially killing the business.
With this is mind, and a good analysis of the available channels, a start-up can utilise social media to gain a foothold in the marketplace.